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Prison director and deputy say vindicated by investigation

Prison director Anna Aristotelous

Lawyers for the prison director and her deputy said on Friday the system would continue to go against them even after a report into allegations and counter-allegations between the director and the head of the drugs squad that they said vindicated them was handed over to the attorney-general (AG).

Earlier on Friday, CyBC reported that the findings submitted by attorney Achilleas Emilianides vindicated Prison Director Anna Aristotelous and her senior unit officer Athina Demetriou, and went against the other party in the dispute, head of the drugs squad Michalis Katsounotos.

According to lawyers George Triantafyllides and Pambos Ioannides because Prison Director Anna Aristotelous and her senior unit officer Athina Demetriou accused Katsounotos of corruption the system will continue to go against them, despite their vindication.

The report was prepared by Emilianides, appointed by the AG as an independent criminal investigator in late June to look into the potential commission of criminal offences by a senior police officer (the head of the Drugs Squad) and an inmate at the central prisons.

The dossier was handed over to attorney-general Giorgos Savvides late on Thursday afternoon, who said he would examine it and not make it public until he can decide a further court of action.

In a joint statement Friday, Aristotelous’ and Demetriou’s lawyers said: “Our clients, despite the merciless war they have faced since the day of they filed their complaint against the senior police officer, Mr Katsounotos, for acts of corruption and collusion, which unfortunately continue to this day, feel completely vindicated by the verdict of Mr Achilleas Emilianides.”

The lawyers called on the attorney-general to answer ‘simple questions’ to end the creation of ‘scenarios’ and in the name of transparency.

“Has Mr Emilianides concluded that Mr Katsounotos committed a crime and/or has his prosecution been requested? Yes or no? If yes, in relation to what crimes? Corruption and abuse of power?”

The lawyers also said that Justice Minister Stephi Drakou’s statements on Thursday were unfortunate as she said she was unaware of the contents of the report.

According to the lawyers, as the minister of justice, she should have ‘picked up the phone’ and requested to know the conclusions of the report.

In a response on Friday, Drakou said she spoke with Savvides on the phone after the report was handed over, and he informed her that as soon as its examination was done, he would inform her of the results.

The lawyers said that they will carefully monitor the case, until the day Savvides makes his decision on any further course of action.

“If indeed the criminal investigator recommends the criminal prosecution of Mr Katsounotos for corruption and abuse of power, we hope that the case will proceed to court, as justice requires,” they said.

Earlier on Friday, Katsounotos met with Police Chief Stelios Papatheodorou, who announced that Katsounotos agreed to be moved to a different position.

Reports said that Katsounotos would move to the position of director of port police from his position in the drug squad.

The affair broke in mid-June when Aristotelous alleged that a senior police officer – later revealed to be Katsounotos – was colluding with an inmate to secure damaging footage of her and her assistant.

That led to a series of investigations.

The first, ordered by the attorney-general, is much narrower in its scope and focuses on allegations made by Aristotelous.

A second investigation was deemed necessary after the courts found that a man behind bars – serving life sentences for murder – was the ringleader of two attempted murder attacks, having used a mobile phone while in prison to organise the crime.

The deputy attorney-general’s office also cited “recent reports” which allege rampant drug use inside the prisons.

Aristotelous and Demetriou asked to be transferred from their positions a day after the second investigation was announced.

There have been claims that alleged illegalities – drug and phone use, among others – continued long after Aristotelous took charge of the prisons.

In a statement on Thursday, issued by his lawyer, Katsounotos said that although his suspension was now over he would take a leave of absence until the attorney-general reaches a decision on the matter.

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